“Legal” or “Lawful”

Ah. Counting on magic words to save you.

Recently I saw someone make a desperate appeal to their perception of a difference between “legal” and “lawful”. They were attempting to make a “founding father” look like something other than the nasty old statist he was, by their tortured interpretation of something he had said about “lawful authority”.

The fellow trying to justify the dead statist’s words was trying to claim that “lawful” meant “in accordance with natural law“, as opposed to “legal”, which meant only that someone made up some legislation and called it a law.

Not that there can be any political “authority” in accordance with natural law, but whatever.

Still, I was willing to consider his point, so I looked up the two words in question.

legal– permitted by law; lawful; of or relating to law; connected with the law or its administration.

appointed, established, or authorized by law; deriving authority from law.

Oops. That “lawful” in there is terribly inconvenient. But, moving right along…

lawful— allowed or permitted by law; not contrary to law; legitimate; appointed or recognized by law; acting or living according to the law.

Trying to read any meaningful difference into those definitions is an impossible task.

However, I’m sympathetic. I know dictionaries are often wrong; relying on incorrect (but popular and common) usage for their definitions. Look how often they conflate “anarchy” with “chaos” for example.

So, when there’s good reason to stray from a bad dictionary definition, I support that move completely.

But, to try to find a good definition for a word so that you can feel good about an old, dead statist is probably pointless if liberty is something you value.

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Libertarianism is The Balance

One objection I frequently see against libertarianism is that it’s “too extreme”. “There needs to be a balance between the extremes of libertarianism and fascism” (as illustrated by “border enforcement” and so forth).

This misses the reality.

(Of course, the act of governing others won’t be referred to as fascism. Statists aren’t that self-aware or honest. They’ll call it “rule of law” or will conflate political government with society. You can use whatever substitute terms you wish, as long as you keep this in mind.)

The extreme ends of the spectrum are not libertarianism and fascism– the extremes are nihilism and fascism. Libertarianism is the healthy balance which avoids both of the toxic extremes. It’s the only way to avoid ruin.

Libertarianism is not “extreme” unless your wish is to watch the world burn; unless you want to kill off everyone with your chosen politics. If you choose something other than libertarianism you are choosing one of the deadly extremes. You are choosing to be extreme in defense of something indefensible.

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Wrong Opinions

There are wrong opinions. An opinion is a belief, and a lot of beliefs are simply wrong.

I know that’s not a nice thing to point out, but it’s true. Your opinion– your belief– may be that “taxation” isn’t theft and therefore isn’t wrong. But it is, no matter what your opinion on the matter may be.

Your opinion might be that the Earth is a flat disk. But it isn’t.

Your opinion might be that anyone who destroys their own copy of Holy Pole Quilt should be punished. That’s a sick, superstitious opinion, and yes: that opinion is wrong.

You are “entitled” to your opinion. You can be as wrong as you want to be. However, no one is obligated to behave as though your opinion is valid when it’s wrong. They don’t have to respect a wrong opinion.

Facts don’t care about your opinions. You should care if your opinions don’t match the facts, but for too many people, that’s hard, and it would invalidate their most dearly held opinions. So they won’t do that.

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Let People Find Their Own Solutions

It amazes me how often people create worse problems while trying to solve problems.

Most problems can be solved; some probably can’t. Don’t give up trying to solve the hard problems, though. You never know if the Elixir of Life is waiting for you to discover just around the next bend.

The best approach is to let people find their own solutions. Most of their ideas will fail; some will be spectacular failures, but as long as no one’s solution is forced on everyone else, people can keep trying different things. The more ideas that get tried, the more problems will be solved.

Often you won’t know if an idea is good until you let people try it for a while. Then, if it turns out badly, the people need to be free to drop it.

Even some of the bad ideas might have the seed of a real solution, just needing a little tweak to work. It’s only when you set a bad idea in stone — or in law — that it becomes hard to reverse.

When you force a one-size-fits-all “solution” on everyone, a bad idea can do lasting damage.

Most proposals for solving anthropogenic global climate change — “global warming” — are like this. Whether the crisis is real or not matters little. Let people try the ideas they believe will help, but don’t let them impose those solutions on anyone. This would limit what others can try and is almost guaranteed to prevent a real, lasting solution from being discovered. If one is needed.

The most tragic examples are when someone causes more of the social problems they imagine their ideas would address. Things like poverty and crime come to mind.

If your anti-poverty program hasn’t resulted in a measurable easing of poverty it’s time to drop it and try something else. Many times, doing nothing would be better than what is being done.

Crime is another topic where this applies. Of course, I’m referring to real crime — violations of life, liberty, and property — not acts that harm no one other than the feelings of politicians.

I believe, from personal experience and observation, that universal voluntary gun possession would prevent most crime. Others believe a total gun ban (exempting government employees) would be the fix. Only one of those doesn’t rely on forcing a rights-violating, one-size-fits-all approach on every individual in society, so only one is ethical.

If your idea isn’t ethical, I’ll pass, no matter how well it works. With this one limit, find your best ideas.

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Perfection is Not an Option

I don’t expect perfection.

Not from people, places, situations, or… whatever else there is.

You are going to have no real choice but to drive on some government roads. You are going to have no choice but to use some things government paid for with money it stole. You can barter and use silver for some trades, but fiat “money” is unavoidable. You may benefit in some roundabout way from government’s unethical (and evil) actions which you oppose. That’s reality.

You don’t have to like it. You aren’t condoning theft or government by using those things. Feel free to speak the truth about government roads even as you are driving on one. That’s not hypocritical, it’s just how things are. You make the best of what you’ve got.

I understand that some people view a government “job” the same way– even though I strongly disagree. Still, as long as someone isn’t actively promoting government supremacy or power, I will cut them some slack. A government-employed librarian is still better than a politician, a government-employed school “teacher”, a member of the military, or a cop. Or, at least preferable in my view, since they aren’t promoting government supremacy nor imposing government at the point of a gun.

But no one is perfect or pure.

To condemn yourself because you aren’t perfect isn’t healthy.

To condemn everyone else because of this reality isn’t helpful. You’re not helping those you condemn, nor are you helping yourself. You certainly aren’t helping society (the interactions between individuals) nor the “cause” of liberty. Demanding the impossible from others (and, yes, in the present reality, it is impossible) causes harm.

What I do expect is that people do the best they can with the cards they’ve been dealt. Recognize that you have no right to archate, and if you feel you “must” anyway, accept the consequences of doing what you don’t have a right to do.

This perfectionist viewpoint causes harm to those who hold and promote it.

This unpleasant reality is no justification for giving up and saying that because no one else lives up to your vision of perfection, you might as well embrace the state and use it against others. This is a destructive mindset. It gives off a foul odor. It looks and smells like hypocrisy to me.

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See What You Can Build on Your Own

There’s a sense of personal accomplishment, of self-worth, when you make something with your own hands through your own efforts. Even if you seek guidance from someone with experience, you’ve learned more than you knew before. You’ll probably value the results more than if you had no part in making it.

If, after you do the work yourself, you decide you’d rather pay someone to do it for you next time, at least you now know what’s involved. You will probably have a better sense of whether someone is doing a good job or not. You might be able to tell if they are trying to scam you or overcharge for their services.

To prevent someone from making things on their own is bad in two ways. You show you don’t trust them to be competent, and you keep them from becoming competent; from learning how to do things they’ll value. If you never allow someone to succeed or fail on their own, always doing everything for them, they’ll never really grow up. They’ll never learn responsibility.

Self-government is the same way. Until you try to govern yourself, without any laws or representatives to fall back on, you’re not a fully competent human being. You may even surprise yourself when you discover you don’t need those things, nor do you want them imposed on others. I have more respect for myself than to look for someone to govern others — even my enemies — on my behalf.

To me, insisting that others must be governed for my benefit is a sign of weakness and immaturity.

People tend to live up or down to your expectations.

So how do you govern yourself with your own two hands? Be responsible. Don’t pawn your responsibilities onto others. Don’t expect others to take care of you, or to protect you from threats you should be dealing with on your own. Mind your own business and expect others to mind theirs. If someone violates you, deal with it yourself. Only seek help if absolutely unavoidable, and then only from truly voluntary sources. You aren’t entitled to other people’s time or money, so don’t act as though you are. Governing yourself isn’t achieved through voting or expecting representatives to fix anything. If you want to do that anyway, don’t stop there and think you’ve accomplished something.

See what you can build with the effort of your own mind and hands. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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